A central theme in this month’s readings is confrontations that are settled without violence. This isn’t to say that there are no thoughts of future violence; these thoughts abound and, sadly, have been a source of much sorrow and tragedy to this day.
Conflicts are continuous, difficult, and surround the concept of “beracha” (blessing). The fighters all know that the ultimate winner will possess a source of never-ending and abundant blessing. To that end, it is important to understand the Torah concept of blessing. Rabbenu Bachya discusses this concept as it relates to Parsha Toledot:
“And make for me delicacies the way I like it, and bring it to me to eat so that I can bless you before I die.” (Yitzchak speaking to Esav). The standard interpretation for the need of good food is that a person must be physically comfortable before a blessing can be conferred. “The shechinah does not rest on the lazy or the sad; but only through happiness” (Talmud Shabbat). In addition, Rabbenu Bachya points out the connection between the constant use of the word nefesh (spirit) and beracha (blessing). The Holy Spirit of blessing – the Ruach HaKodesh – cannot exist without physical contentment and blessing.
If we create the proper environment for the performance of Torah and mitzvot, if we care enough to try and elevate our lives towards the attainment of Torah and mitzvot, then the Master of the Universe will simply allow that environment to prosper and grow more beautiful with each passing day. Rabbenu Bachya holds that the rule regarding blessings is that the only blessings available in this world are those that are attached to mitzvot! Consequently, he who is careful about the mitzvah of wearing tzitzit (ritual fringes) will be blessed with fine clothing; he who is meticulous concerning the mitzvah of mezuzahs will deserve a fine house. In this world, true blessing and Avodat HaShem (service to God) go hand-in-hand. Thus, it is but a short leap of faith to go from this to the saying in Ethics of Our Fathers, “The reward of a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself.”
With this in mind, the nature of the struggles in Toledot – the struggle for a little blessing in our lives – becomes clear. The conflict for blessings is physical, spiritual, all consuming, and, of course, never ending.
May we merit the blessings of Yitzchak: an abundance of spirituality in a setting of splendor!
Thought & Thanks
A blind person once commented: “What is the worst thing that can happen to a person? To have two good eyes and not see . . . .”
A Final Thought
Rav Mendel of Kotzk would say: “There isn’t anything in the world for which one cannot find an imitation or copy. The only exception to this is the truth because there is no such thing as imitation of the truth.” (A Touch of Wisdom)
Light candles at 5:38 p.m.
Saturday, November 6
Torah Portion: Toledot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)
Light candles at 4:33 p.m.
Saturday, November 13
Torah Portion: Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:3)
Light andles at: 4:29 p.m.
Saturday, November 20
Torah Portion: Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)
Light candles at: 4:26 p.m.
Saturday, November 27
Torah Portion: Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)